Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Davis, Ph.D.


The role of public universities in economic development is through economic engagement activities, where public universities can build relationships and partnerships with industry, non-profits and governments to contribute to the prosperity of regional economies. In the past decade, collaborative models have been used to overlap scholarship, research and service that lead to sustainable outcomes.

Differences in engagement activities and outcomes of Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are examined, specifically those in the University of North Carolina system. Secondary data from survey responses identified various types of activities associated with university engagement, key themes and concepts that aligned with different levels of outcomes.

Results show that both types of universities participate in the same types of engagement activities. The results indicate that HBCUs participate in more engagement activities whose long-term outcomes result in economic development. In contrast, PWIs participate in more activities that contribute to social development. While that correlation for PWIs between outcomes and activities were positive, but not statistically significant. The activities and outcomes of HBCUs are highly positive and statistically significant. When considering the ROI of public dollars allocated for public higher education and their contribution to the economic prosperity of the region, there is evidence that HBCUs and their engagement practices contribute more often to economic development. The implications of these findings require a thoughtful examination of the engagement practices of HBCUs as an exemplary model for strategic engagement that produce more economically beneficial outcomes.